The Ugly Little Fact That Nobody Wants To Talk About
Our chirpiest contributor, Vinny, aka @TheLastIslander, checks in with a decidedly contrarian take on the Simmonds-Avery incident. A lot of ink has been spilled on this controversy since it first erupted on Monday evening, and we like to think we offer some of the inkiest commentary out there. We are the many colors of the fabulous hockey rainbow here, but in a good way (not the creepy way). -Craig
“There are a host of people and outlets, mainstream and otherwise, that are doing a lot of great work in the wake of “Fag-Gate”, and I’m going to undermine all of that right now. Look, I’m not one of these self-loathing “I hate gay rights” Log Cabin Republicans, so spare your fire.
I’m going against the grain here, not because I want to be the gay dude condoning the use of the F word, but because I get it. I don’t want to do this just to be devil’s advocate, I’m doing it because it needs to be said. I know why you’re upset. I also know why the boys in the room are upset.
I get it, guys. The word “faggot” connotes a ton of painful images. I know some of them all too well. But those of you equating this with the Banana thrown at Wayne Simmonds earlier in the week just don’t get it. I’m going to be honest, the majority of you hot to trot about this never played the game. Yeah, I know that’s an elitist argument and may come off as condescending, but it’s reality.. and part of what makes me so, charming. I had the pleasure throughout my youth of playing baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey and wrestling all at various points in my youth.”
“Almost all of them in a formal league, and the one that wasn’t well, it was played more competitively than most of those league sports.Those hockey games were freaking insane.
There would have been three separate “During the game last night in Bensonhurst, there was an incident…” Shanahan-videos about my style of play, off the top of my head without thinking. The time I two-handed my best friend’s surgically repaired knee… oh, that was good one. I had committed to a hipcheck and he deked me out of my jock, so as he was blowing past me… yeah. That was a good one.
The time a car slowed to a crawl to watch us and I checked his younger brother (probably the best skilled player of all of us) into it? That’d be a Gillies-esque suspension. Or the time on a race for the puck I lost, I flat-out obliterated one of my buddies just about through my chain link fence. What’s this have to do with the price of apples, or in this case bananas? Simple. You do things… you say things on the ice you aren’t proud of. All three of those guys are close friends who I love dearly, yet during the course of playing hockey I inflicted grievous pain on all of them, and no I don’t feel bad about it. I cackle about it periodically in fact. I took as oft as I gave. Same thing in any other sport. You say things you wouldn’t normall say outside the confines of competition.
You shouldn’t. But in the heat of battle they get said. “Jerkoff!” and “Hey Douchebag (Or it’s variant cousindouchefag)” were my standards. Wait… a gay dude calling someone else fag? Yes! It happened. It’s horrible. But you’re trying to insult them in a language they get. That’s how insulting people works. Racial epithets, religious put downs, sexual orientation slams… we’ve heard them all, and most of us have used them all. If the person you’re trying to piss off doesn’t get it, you’ve failed. That’s why you go lowbrow. That’s just reality. You say ridiculous things to rile an opponent. Does Sean Avery, who reportedly called black players “monkey”say that because he’s a stars and bars waving racist? No. He says it to get some cheap heat.
If by Avery saying that, it gets a dude off his game, in his mind he’s done his job. It’s horrible, but it’s reality. Likewise, if by calling Avery a “fucking faggot,” Avery goes nuts and is ineffective the rest of the game, Simmonds has done his.
It’s not ethical. The league should issue memos out the ass, but it wasn’t explicitly forbidden by league guidelines until this week.
You can’t judge a guy based on a rule you haven’t created yet. And no, you can’t tell me“he should know better”, either. You play the game, you say and do things you otherwise wouldn’t, that’s just the way it goes. We can educate, but to make a pariah out of Wayne Simmonds is dumb. You use this, you don’t get consumed by it.
These things will never completely go away. We can minimize them through education. That’s the only way this works. Boys will still say dumb things in the heat of the game. It’s going to happen, so bitching about it is a waste of time. There is however, a teachable moment here.
The ASPCA ended up making a huge surge in momentum (and donations!) off Mike Vick by using it properly.
That’s what GLAAD, HRC or another advocacy group can do here. Show a clip of that Neanderthal throwing a banana on the ice and have Theo Fluery, or Burke, or even Sean Avery, OR IF THERE’S A CHANCE IN HELL, WAYNE SIMMONDS HIMSELF! Really, anyone in the game that’s respected and GETS IT walk on-screen and say “That’s hate. So are the words we use. Think before you speak.” And just leave it alone. It’ssimple, effective, and easily done.
The other thing worth addressing was banana man. The reason I largely let Simmonds skate, pardon the obvious and tortured pun, is because I don’t think he meant it, or even hates gays. He said something screwed up during the game. Gordie Howe is the foul mouthiest dude that ever laced ’em up. Do you have any idea what Billy Smith would call his TEAMMATES, let alone the other guys? That’s all part of the game. This dude, Banana Man… AS A FAN…. During THE INTENSITY OF PRESEASON….Brought a BANANA to fling at a black player. Are you kidding me? Enjoy your stay in the pokey or fine, fella.
Anyone calling that the same thing as a spontaneous utterance towards the game’s biggest agitator during play doesn’t get it. I’m out, flame away.”